CEDAR LAKE | School is still a few days away from being back in session, but two young teams with a cadre of inexperienced players learned plenty of lessons Friday night.
And in a game that featured a grand total of three seniors between the two rosters, a sophomore from Andrean made sure the 59ers started the new calendar year without a slip-up.
Just as Hanover Central closed to within one possession of the lead, Andrean woke up behind sophomore Colin Flowers and went on to win 62-43. It was Andrean’s fourth consecutive victory.
“Colin gave us a lot of energy, and in a game like this you need a spark plug,” Andrean coach Scott Hicko said. “He got steals and attacked the basket and played with an energy that seemed above everybody else.”
Flowers scored eight of his 10 points during a game-breaking 12-2 run in the third quarter as Andrean’s trap ultimately stymied the Wildcats (0-6).
After making nine turnovers while falling behind 16-7 in the first quarter, Hanover worked the baseline and the paint and outscored the 59ers in the second quarter and cut a lead that had been as big as 12 points down to one point when Wildcats junior Luke Pederson’s short jumper made the score 29-28 early in the third.
“Hanover played with us and played well and kind of lulled us to sleep,” Hicko said. “We need to be more effective. We are always flat coming out from a long break.”
Andrean (4-3) pushed the lead to 41-30 on Flowers’ final layup with 3:11 left in the third. Nick Podkul, who had beaten the buzzer for a 3 in the first quarter, hit a layup with 3.6 seconds left in the third and helped the 59ers outscore the Wildcats 17-6 in the final period.
The 59ers forced 20 turnovers and only made 13.
Hicko said Andrean’s first three losses exposed the team but ultimately made it better.
“It was weird, but we’ve worked hard to prove ourselves,” said Podkul, who led all scorers with 17 points. “We want to work hard and shock some people. Our biggest thing, we want to play as a team.”
Payton Smith canned four treys and led the Wildcats with 14 points.
“From the time we got him as an eighth-grader, people were saying Payton was a gunner who would shoot from anywhere on the floor and didn’t believe in the word defense,” Hanover coach Bryon Clouse said. “Now here he is, guarding the other team’s best player every night and really handling the ball and picking his shots well. I’m very, very, very pleased with his progression.”
Despite the loss, Clouse was also excited about his team’s progress.
“We’re 0-6, but this is the first time in a while that I can really say we have some things to build upon,” Clouse said. “Those middle quarters, we really saw some things.”